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The Osbournes: The First Season (Uncensored) By Brian Jacks
After the concept of people slaughtering pigs and eating slugs got a bit old, the Reality Television Gods next turned their attention to a slightly more unusual venue: the F*&king Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne. MTV’s The Osbournes was possibly the 2002 television season’s most unexpected hit, blending family values with the man who pissed on the Alamo. Now Buena Vista has released the entire first season on DVD, complete with an uncensored version that removes those pesky censor bleeps.
At first glance, Ozzy and the family may not seem like the most obvious choice for being put in the proverbial microscope. After all, fans of the heavy metal rocker have typically been resigned to the freak pile for decades now, forced to undergo constant high school badgering at the hands of the more “popular” and “mainstream” crowd (sorry, this is still painful to talk about). But voila, all it took was MTV’s stamp of approval and suddenly the British hellraiser became fashionable with everyone from soccer moms to GAP preppies to the president. But hey, more power to Ozzy, and if there’s anything that can be said about The Osbournes, it’s that it’s pretty damn entertaining.
And there’s a good reason for that. In the midst of the family’s consistent uber-cursing and the occasional overindulgence, Americans found something to relate to in most facets of the Osbournes’ existence, whether it be the parent-child dynamic or the persistent attempt by the children to step out from the family shadow and establish a presence of their own. Indeed, even the many instances of Ozzy chasing the family pets or snuggling with his wife gives audiences an intriguing look at a microcosmic take on the concept of the American household, however peculiar this family may be.
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There’s truly something for everyone to relate to, and that’s what viewers latched on to. And while it appears that, like all hot shows, the Osbournes fad is revving downwards, it’ll always be fondly remembered as an interesting blip on the typically monotonous radar of television-dom.
The Osbournes: The First Season is delivered in its original 1.33:1 broadcast aspect ratio, with a quality that’s acceptable for a television program. Having compressed ten episodes plus numerous supplements on only two discs, there is the occasional pop-up of compression artifacts, which, while annoying, do not necessarily detract from the viewing. Colors, particularly darker ones, are nicely defined, although the contrast tends to be a bit high, rather than the softer tones of cinema, something that is typical with live television.
On the audio front, a single Dolby Digital 2.0 track is included. Again, considering this is a television show and not a film, the sound is more than acceptable, particularly since The Osbournes is mostly all dialogue. Concentrated primarily through the center channel, the rears are utilized only occasionally, such as for scenes shot at Ozzy’s concerts.
Included with the collection is quite a large number of special features. First off, if you pick up the Uncensored version, the option exists to view the show with or without bleeps, which is an interesting element. There’s also the option of viewing each episode with the “Ozzy Translator,” which is a subtitle-like text that deciphers the rocker’s often odd-sounding, mumbling pronunciations.
Headlining the supplements is running commentary for nine of the ten episodes by Jack and Sharon Osbourne. While sometimes sporadic, they do provide often intriguing additional insight into what the filming experience has been like, and also touch on such weighty topics as Sharon’s relatively recent cancer diagnosis. All told, I can’t say it’s the most interesting commentary around, but parts of it certainly make it worth listening to at least once.
Next up is bonus footage from nine episodes, some of which are actually pretty lengthy. The quality of the clips differ significantly depending on how interesting the particular episode was, but there are some genuinely amusing scenes included.
Moving on, we have the collection’s major featurette, “Conversations With The Osbournes,” which is divided into five individualized sections with the option to play all concurrently. The first segment, “Life On The Road” is a ten-minute discussion with the family on the topic of living out of a suitcase while on tour, certainly a hardship for any musician. While some humorous anecdotes are told (including one that involves a bag of fecal matter), most of the talk falls on the serious side, such as Sharon discussing her dual role of both manager and husband, and her desire to protect Ozzy and the kids. In “Family Values,” another ten-minute segment, we hear from the family on the subject of the traditional household and their place in it. Ozzy in particular makes several strong arguments, discussing dysfunctionality, and how he’s always desired to be completely open with his children.
“First Season Stories,” the third vignette, is an 18-minute look at the entire production of the show and how it has affected the family. Particularly interesting was hearing Sharon discuss how she approached the networks with the concept, which was a surprise to me as I’ve always assumed it was MTV who initiated it. Next we deviate for “The Untold Stories of Michael the Security Guard,” a one-minute piece where the African-American employee details his short run-in with the Beverly Hills Police Department, who stopped him in the white neighborhood and briefly detained him under the pretext of a robbery investigation. Closing out “Conversations” is a four-minute look at Rob, Kelly’s classmate whom the family befriended and later took in after his mother died of cancer.
Moving on, “Too Oz For TV” is a six-minute blooper reel, consisting mainly of run-ins between the family and the production crew. There’s a lot of Jack tormenting the boom operators and cameramen. There’s also a few shocking moments where Sharon will say something incredibly sexual, eliciting a loud piercing scream from her daughter.
“Season Highlights” is a 17-minute feature divided into five featurettes: Ozzy’s Fatherly Advice, Sharon’s Motherly Advice, Kelly’s Top Moments, Jack’s Top Moments, and lastly Lola’s Top Moments (the dog). The title’s are pretty good descriptions of what’s contained within.
Finally, we have “Ozzy’s Ten Commandments,” a 1:30 minute amusing bit where Ozzy describes his cardinal rules he’d like the family to follow, consisting of such items as don’t mooch off your father, and don’t buy a car off your father’s money.
Rounding out the supplements is a number of games, including Osbournes Bingo and a scene-editing program where you can assemble a five-minute segment using assorted clips. Rounding out the extras are DVD-ROM materials that include a Guide to the Osbournes and various website links.
The Show: B+. In a world filled with reality show rejects, The Osbournes stand alone.
The Look: B-. Not the greatest video transfer, but still quite acceptable.
The Sound: B-. While a 5.1 digital track would have been nice, the 2.0 gets the job done.
The Extras: A. A significant level of quality supplements makes this release shine.
Overall: B+.The Osbournes continues to entertain, and this collection proves why.